Most people seem to be dog people to some degree and some are dog ONLY people.  We aren’t those people.  We are cat people first, but we don’t shun, harm, poison, kick, set fire to, shoot at, drive down, or otherwise do mean and cruel things to dogs.  In fact, we’ve almost always had a dog in the house, albeit one who wished, wished, wished he was a cat.  We have one right now.  His name is Mac.

When Hannah begged for this dog, he was an older puppy with all the horrible habits of a big dog older puppy.  His portfolio of items chewed and mangled beyond salvage include garden hoses, shoes, numerous towels and rugs left laying over something out back to dry, various and sundry parts to various and sundry tools and equipment, several weed whackers, a pop up tent and its case, my brand new cushions for my brand new outdoor wicker sofa set, bits and pieces of my brand new outdoor wicker sofa set, a couple of those metal folding lawn chairs, two – count them – two bamboo tiki torches, somebody’s cell phone left here but we don’t know whose, an unrecognizable wallet possibly belonging to the mysterious cell phone owner, a wall plug for supposedly the cell phone that was left here that we can’t identify, and a camera complete with case and SD cards.  I’m sure there are more items but I’ve done my best to put them from memory. My threats to get rid of him resulted in dramatic protests and then he seemed to just stop chewing.  I guess after you’ve tasted a tiki torch and such nothing else holds much interest.  For that, we are thankful.

Though he is a big dog, Mac thinks he is cat sized.  This came to our attention the first time he was boarded while we were on vacation.  I received a call from the Pet Smart Hotel telling me he was doing well and asking if he was used to playing with small dogs.  Wondering if Mac had a secret life while we were away during the day at school and work, I answered that he wasn’t.  He then asked me if we had a cat and I said we did and asked why. “Well, you’ve set up playdates for him and since he’s a big dog, we put him with the big dogs but he was afraid of them.  So we put him with the medium-sized dogs and he was still afraid.  He went in next with the small dogs and he seemed comfortable with the chihuahuas.  He still acts like they are bigger than him, though.  It’s probably because he thinks he’s the size of a cat.  We just wanted to make sure of what we were dealing with here.”  And on our return, Mac’s playdate report card showed an A in behavior and said “I like to play with little dogs!”  I threatened to trade him in for a real little dog.

Though he sees himself as cat sized, that doesn’t keep him from chasing the outside cats.  We are indoor cat people but one lives in the backyard and a neighbor’s cat is her dining companion every night at feeding time.  When Mac’s kitty-senses start tingling, he has an arfy fit to go outside and chase them both back to their places; our cat to the top of my worn out ’67 Mustang that sits dilapidated awaiting someone to love it, and the neighbor cat to the top of the fence.  He then springs, not jumps, but springs like Tigger while making a pitiful whining sound and emitting high-pitched tiny barks while maintaining eye contact with the cats until we drag him in.  I consistently tell him if he doesn’t stop, he goes.

Dragging Mac around is what we do a lot.  This is our only dog that hasn’t learned to come when called. He is stubborn, mulish and fifty other synonyms that all mean pig-headed.  In the mornings before we leave, Hannah pulls him from the couch after making him a delicious breakfast sans tiki torches and holding his front paws in her hands, walks him on two legs as she leads him out the door.  Her conversations with him as this is happening go something like, “It’s time, Mac, come on, you know the routine, put one foot in front of the other, there you go, see you can do this, if you’d walk out on all four this wouldn’t be so hard, and out the door we go….”  This is much more effective, and quiet, than if I’m left to get him out the door.  On those days, I’d like to really get rid of him.

We thought he was a dingo of some kind because he doesn’t howl like most dogs and it’s not the howl of a husky but rather has a howl-trill that mimics an old-fashioned siren and goes Woo-ah-woo-ah-woo-ah Wooooooooo!  The first time we heard it we all ran to the window to see where it was coming from. That mutt.

More recently we conceded to Mac’s heretofore “secret” excursions on the couches.  Only the cats had been allowed the privilege of resting on the couches with us, but the minute we’d walk out of the room he’d jump on the couch and get cozy.  He’d stealthily slide off when he heard us coming down the hall and look everywhere but at us when we’d ask if he’d been on that couch.  After noting more dog hair than cat hair on the couches, I decided to throw a sheet over them.  It’s as if he knew, instantly, that meant he could get up there openly to enjoy his naps. He’s almost convinced he’s a cat.

Mild to a fault, Mac has always been the dog that we were sure would both welcome and help intruders to the best cat food on the shelves. Several weeks ago, however, he showed he actually did have value as a dog.  My mom was over and someone came to the door.  As she went to open it Mac, who normally just lays there wagging his tail or stands there wagging his tail, sprang between her and the door so that she had difficulty opening it. Confused by behavior she’d never seen, she cracked the door slightly knowing the security screen was locked and closed.  Two men were there but Mac was growling fiercely, showing teeth we didn’t know he had, and acting as if he’d do to those men what he’d done to the tiki torches.  They left in a hurry. 

I snapped these pictures of him the other day as I was asking him if he was a cat or dog, and then asking him if he was a big dog or a little dog. Whatever he is, or whatever he thinks he is, I no longer threaten to get rid of him.  Just look at that face!  Mac is, finally, one of us.   

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